Sundance 2012 Review: Trade In Your Ironic T-Shirts For a Dose of Emotion in ‘I Am Not A Hipster’

By  · Published on January 27th, 2012

Brook (Dominic Bogart) is not a hipster – he may wear deep V-neck t-shirts, plaid and have an overwhelmingly self-deprecating attitude, but a hipster he is not (or so the title of this film claims.) Brook is an aspiring musician and while he is having a good amount of success on the San Diego indie music scene, he seems bitter and angry. Brook hates compliments and recognition, which is slightly ironic considering his best friend, Clarke (Alvaro Orlando), is his biggest fan (a fact he announces daily.)

While doing a local radio interview Brook seems incredibly disinterested, almost laughing at himself for even being there, but this feeling quickly devolves into combative when the host (Brad William Henke) asks him about his mother (who passed away two years earlier.) Brook flips out and leaves the studio and it is in this moment that we begin to realize what may be the real root of Brook’s behavior.

Brook’s three sisters Joy (Tammy Minoff), Spring (Lauren Coleman) and Marrily (Kandis Erickson) come to visit along with their father (who Brook seems to have some unresolved issues with) and while this is a surprise to Brook, the girls had been leaving him endless messages about it that he never bothered to listen to. This seems like yet another example of Brook only caring about himself, but when his sisters descend and Brook’s attitude begins to thaw, we start to realize that Brook may not be as selfish as he seems.

The girls are in town to scatter their mom’s ashes and it is clear that the four siblings are incredibly close, sleeping in the same bed and pushing into each other’s space without hesitation. Considering the slightest thing usually sets Brook, one would think the three women invading his life and personal space would send him off the deep end, but Brook seems annoyed for only a few minutes before his attitude starts to shift. In one of the film’s more poignant moments, Joy finds Brook sitting on the floor of his bedroom watching footage of a tsunami destroy a town (footage he seems mildly obsessed with) and Brook reveals what has really been upsetting him – Brook isn’t angry, he is lonely. Clearly losing his mother affected him more than even Brook may have realized and has affected his attitude and outlook on life.

Director Destin Cretton (who also penned the script) paints a story that had a few plot holes, but overall depicted a young man who could at first be considered a stereotype, but is instead slowly revealed to have a bit more emotional depth than it seemed at first glance. Brook may not be a hipster who has an unreasonable disdain for the world around him after all – he may just be a kid dealing with a tragic loss, who also happens to also like wearing skinny jeans.

The Upside: I Am Not A Hipster takes on idea of how we can label people without really getting to know or understand them and Orlando’s Clarke may be a bit of a yes man, but when he finally stands up to Brook he truly shines and made a push over of a character into someone worth watching.

The Downside: It is never quite explained why Brook had issues with his father or why the family waited two years before deciding to spread their mom’s ashes, weakening the narrative which started to get interesting once Brook dropped the attitude and started showing his true colors.

On the Side: While hooking up with a girl after a party one night, the mere mention of his ex’s new boyfriend and his band annoys Brook so much he literally pushed the girl out of his bed – and got one of the film’s biggest laughs.

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